Annaprashan or First Rice Ceremony is a rite of passage that marks an infant’s first taste of food other than milk and celebrates the transition from a liquid diet to solids in the Hindu faith. The First Rice ceremony is usually arranged in consultation with a priest who will choose a special date and time on which to conduct the ceremony. It is generally performed after the baby’s first five months but before their first birthday. The rice eating ceremony is held for boys during an even month, generally the sixth or eighth month and for girls, it is done in the odd months, generally the fifth or the seventh month.
The First Rice Ceremony can be a small family gathering or a large party, depending upon the wishes of the parents and grandparents. First Rice Ceremony invitations are difficult to find online, but many birth announcements designs could be modified with your Annaprashan wording.
The baby is dressed in new, often traditional clothing such as a baby dhoti kurta or a lehenga choli. These, too, are difficult to find in the USA and are often brought in India by family or friends visiting there.
Traditionally, the mother or grandmother prepare a small bowl of boiled rice, milk and sugar mixture (rice pudding) which is then blessed. The child is held in the mother’s lap while a senior male family member such as a grandfather or uncle feeds them a small portion of the rice. Other members of the extended family and guests will then take turns giving the child a taste.
The feeding ceremony is often followed with a game that involves placing a tray containing a number of symbolic objects in front of the child. The child’s future direction is predicted by the object the child prefers to hold and play with. A bangle or jewel indicates wealth, a book, learning, a pen, wisdom.
It’s an exciting time for everyone, but here are a few tips to make sure that the baby is happy, too.
- Make sure the baby is well rested before the ceremony
- If possible, hold the ceremony just after the morning bath or before the mid- morning nap
- Limit the gathering to just a few close family members and friends so that the baby isn’t overwhelmed
- Make sure that the material, embellishments or embroidery on the baby’s ceremonial clothes won’t irritate the baby’s skin
- Allow only a few close relatives to feed the baby and not each and every member of the ceremonial party
As one of the major Hindu rituals in India, the First Rice Ceremony is the baby’s official welcome into society.